Would Titanic had done better to keep on steaming


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James Eldridge

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Greetings,

I just joined the forum and enter these waters with fear and trembling after reading many previous posters messages here. Let me preface my questions with the qualification that I am not a Titanic scholar but an interested lay person and have not been ordained into the canon of orthodoxy about what is or isn't accepted facts and methods of research. With that caveat offerred here's my humble question for the forum:

I always wondered if Captain Smith had continued steaming ahead if the flooding would have been reduced and have allowed the RMS Titanic more time to reach the ship showing lights before sinking. Of course I don't know whether or not the 'lights' were visible at the time the Titanic hit the berg or they appear later in the tragedy, but it seems to me that given the inhospitable local of the accident that steaming as far toward rescue as possible under the circumsatnces might have been a better idea than stopping. What do you erudite folks think?

Eldridge
 
Wow, erudite...hmmmmm...well while I look that up...let me say. I have proven myself on many occasions to not be a scholar of any type, but will take a stab at something that I have no clue about.

My opinion is that they (the crew) handled things as they should given the situation, but vision here for us being 20/20 froma hindsite perspective and knowing things that the crew may have not and could not have been aware of...I would keep going. But by doing so would have flooded my engine room while the engines were hot and have caused such a major explosion that I would have killed everyone, where the crew saved many.

The only stupid thing I have in my experience on which to base my stupid decision to keep going this is a hurricane in New Jersey. I was caught in the low lands of Upper New Jeresey during a rather sudden unexpected hurricane and many of those lowere areas flooded rather badly. The guy in front of me lowered his MG top down and began to take off across a rushing stream and then decided to stop. His car lowered and filled to the brim with the rushing water. There was no way to know that the water was so deep at first and the rushing water came quite quickly, so I instead of stopping continued my trip at the same speed and made it to the other side.

That is what I would have based my decision and I would have killed everyone by doing so.

Hope that was an okay answer.
Maureen.
 
J

James Eldridge

Guest
Well answered!

I think the boiler rooms not already flooded would not have exploded because they would not have been in danger from flooding due to the water tight compartments holding firm. Speed might have slowed the flooding (just my guess here) and allowed the Captain time to consider more options eg. turning towards the mysterious lights. Afterall, he had alrady hit one iceberg so whats the worse thing to happen,...sinking faster? The boats could still have been readied for embarcation and the time used to better organize the passengers into lifeboat stations. Like I said I'm no expert so hope I don't attract any flames from those who are, but this is an honest question and I do hope the more knowledgeable posters will take a moment to answer it gracefully.

Eldridge
 
Hi James, given the damage, to keep on steaming would have been the worst possible thing they could have done that night. The water was already coming in a 7 tons a second and forging ahead would have forced it in at a faster rate. Since this would have meant keeping up steam and stoking the fires, this would have magnified the risk of a boiler explosion once the water flooded the boiler rooms. Lets not forget also that Boiler Room Six was flooded from the very start.

Also, steaming ahead would have made it impossible to safely launch the lifeboats. A fact which was graphically illustrated when two lifeboats were launched from the sinking Britannic three years later while the ship was still had way on. The lifeboats were chopped to bits by the propellers. Ah...so were some of the unfortunate blokes who were in it.

Mo, I'm afraid that the chap in the MG was screwed the minute he chose to take a chance on the water. You were lucky, VERY lucky to make it to the other side. I'm betting you were driving a heavier car and that was probably your salvation. The depth...as you pointed out, was an unknowable factor...and the current in even reletively shallow floodwaters is a proven killer. I hope you never chance it again. I hate reading the obituary of a freind.

Still shuddering at the thought,
Michael H. Standart
 
At the time, I was in a Chevorlet Vega...not much heavier. But I would never try anything that stupid again. When I was in Korea, I was trapped in flood waters that rose so fast and I took my two step daughters, my infant daughter and myself as quickly as possible to higher ground whcih was a straight shot up the mountain. Some men in a quarter ton truck thought me foolish and they took the bridge that went across the flooded river figuring that they would be safe in the truck. But they all perished and did not find the quarter ton truck until days later way down stream. Made me think of that day in New Jersey. I take water very seriously now.
Thanks Michael for caring about me and for thinking of me as a friend.
Maureen.
 
There is some evidence that the Titanic stopped and then started to steam ahead again. I haven't investigated it fully. It comes from various testimony of passengers and crew.
Steaming ahead did not help the Arctic which only hastened the sinking as she made a wild dash for land.
Mike
 
Hi, James:

I'd have to agree with Michael Standart's excellent analysis here. To have proceeded toward those lights might well have been suicidal. The explosion danger was presumeably apparent, and the additional pressure induced by forward acceleration might have further weakened the already critically damaged bow and bulkheads. Whatever mistakes were made prior to collision, I'd have to assume that the consultations between Captain Smith, Thomas Andrews, Chief Engineer Bell, and others resulted in a strategy befitting the circumstances.

As was pointed out in a similar discussion on the Newsgroup alt.history.ocean-liners.titanic, there also wasn't sufficient time under the prevailing circumstances of inundation to ready and fill ALL of the available life boats -- the last two collapsibles merely floated off as the bow went under, one capsized and the other empty save for those who made the last-ditch leap aboard. Had there been more time, these boats might have been properly filled. Had there been even less, perhaps none of the collapsibles (or worse) might even have been readied.

Michael, thanks for sharing that somewhat disquieting revelation on Brittanic's abortive moving lifeboat launch. Certainly not an exodus I'd like to try!

Cheers!
John Feeney
 
James,

Steaming ahead would only compound the problem. You want a real thought to ponder? Is after striking the iceberg, reverse the engines and have the ship travel at full speed in reverse. This is an attempt to create suction at the bow of the ship where the damage was. To pull the water away from the bow from the huge hull in motion. This would have to be attempted immediately after the collision. Only the outboard wing propellors could be used in reverse.
The turbine engine was for forward only. This would of course be used to get the ship to shallow waters. You may remember reading about the Olympic/Hawke accident.
This accident was based on this theory, which caused a great disturbance in 1911, to which Captain Smith was to blame.

Gary
 
J

James Eldridge

Guest
Thanks for the all the information everyone!

The reverse move sounds very interesting and revolutionary thinking that while it may have had some benefit probably would have required a quiditive debate by Smith, Andrews and any number of others that night before trying it out,...too bad there wasn't more time!

The Britannic movie did show a pretty graphic recreation of the dangers of lifeboats and propellers still revolving!

On the question of the 'light' seen on the horizon I was wondering if this might not have been caused by reflected moonlight on another iceberg or some other natural cause. Pardon me if my ignorance here is too apparent but as I already stated I'm not an authority on the tragedy so if this question has been muted by copious pills of evidence than please excuse it.

Eldridge
 
re: should Titanic have continued steaming ahead.

As a matter of fact, one of the recent books on the Titanic discusses this subject specifically (albeit just in the last chapter).

The author, Jim Clary, promotes the theory that Titanic WAS driven at half speed for 20 to 30 minutes after she hit the berg; and that this action severely shortened the stricken liner’s last moments afloat.

His book is called The Last True Story of Titanic. isbn# 1-58345-000-9.

all the best, Michael (TheManInBlack) Tennaro
 
J

James Eldridge

Guest
Greetings,

My reason for posing this question is based on my own experience with my yacht striking a log and getting holed near the starboard bow a few years ago. While the damage looked minor (a slight crack) water seemed to be seeping through fast I was terrified of the idea of losing my vessel and headed full speed for the nearest marina which fortuantely, I made safely. I suppose after reading the learned posts above that a vessel like the Titanic would have sunk faster or exploded had Captain Smith ordered the same action and he was a bit farther from a friendly shore than my Corinthian was.

Eldridge
 

Jason D. Tiller

Moderator
Member
Hi Maureen,

I just read your post and you're very fortunate to have gotten out of that one.

I'm glad you're ok.

Best regards,

Jason
 
Hi Mo, and with a volunteer fireman in the family(My dad) I'm all to aware of how quickly floodwaters can ruin your day. Where my youngest sister is living(Las Vegas) is an area notorious for flash floods so I have yet another source of information.

John, I'm always happy to share information when I have it. Glad I could help. It's too bad some people on the Britannic had a go at launching while the ship was moving and notably without authorisation. A very pricey mistake! Like Robert A. Heinlein once said, "You live and you learn...or you don't live long!"

Gary, I don't think that steaming in reverse would have helped much if at all. Remember that water pressure goes up as you go deeper and as far down as it was in some places, your talking about a pressure of two atmospheres. As to the damage nearer the waterline(Boiler Room Six), you're dealing with a plate sprung wide enough so what you had going into Boiler Room Six was a waterfall. Moving in any direction would only have forced it in faster.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Michael,

The Titanic was designed to stay afloat with any 2 compartments flooded. She could even stay afloat with the first 4 compartments flooded. The pumps were controlling the water in boiler room #5. Boiler room #6 was severely damaged, but a considerable distance from the bow. Even if boiler room #6 filled to the waterline, it is reasonable to believe that this theory has merit.
It is the bow section of the ship where the suction would have the greatest impact. If you have seen pictures of the Olympic/Hawke accident,
the starboard aft section of the Olympic is where the Hawke hit.

Gary
 
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